How to Build Student Motivation in the Age of Automation


teacher classroom management blog


The Robots are Coming!

Will Your Students be Ready for the Age of Automation?


Includes 3 Free Downloads


classroom management help

classroom management help

classroom management help

classroom management help






30% OFF!expert classroom management tools

Breakthrough Strategies

Behavior & Budget Problems Stop Here

Now $119 for 2 Days, $90 for 1 Day
Coupon Code: 30% OFF Seattle WA 2020 | Valid through 04-22-20
Register  |  Workshop Information

Seattle, WA: April 23-24, 2020

Portland, OR: October 8-9, 2020


Working with difficult students doesn’t have to be so difficult!

What kind of year will it be without our 200 problem-stopping strategies?



The Robots are Coming!

Will Your Students be Ready for the Age of Automation?

Includes 3 Free Downloads


It’s the million dollar question: how to build student motivation. That’s always been the million dollar question, but now, in the coming age of automation, maybe it’s become a billion dollar question. In this issue of the Classroom Management Blog, it’s a question we hope to answer by giving you specific, novel, more effective strategies to build student motivation.

how to motivate students

Hello from Youth Change Workshops’ Director, Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. Motivation is so important. It underlies everything you do with students in your classroom, school or office, yet you probably had very little practical training in college on how exactly to motivate students to care about anything that happens in school. This how-to article aims to fix just that.

According to USA Today, robots may soon replace a quarter of all U.S. workers. Most at risk are the 36 million Americans who hold jobs where 70% or more of their work duties could potentially be automated. Most likely to be affected are cashiers, cooks, waiters, short-haul truck drivers and office clerical workers, USA Today asserts. Mark Muro, of the Brookings Institute is quoted as saying that those affected workers are going to need to “upskill, reskill or change jobs fast.”

Exactly who is at risk of losing their jobs to automation? According to USA today, the most vulnerable are males with low levels of education, especially those in manufacturing and blue-collar jobs. Also, highly at risk are females with low and intermediate levels of education working in clerical and administrative positions.

It’s going to be a brave new world. And it’s coming quickly, Here are some dynamic motivational tips, tricks, strategies, ideas and methods to help you make sure that your students are ready to live on our high tech planet where computers, artificial intelligence and robots become full time job killers for any endeavor that can be automated.


Will Your Students be Ready for the Age of Automation?




Jobs That Are No More

Includes Free Download

motivating career classroom posterDownload this item on our Free Worksheets for Teachers page. It will open in a new window. You can choose to use this item as a poster if you have a color printer that prints large 11″ x 17″ pages. The item also works well as a student worksheet or projected onto a screen.

This student motivational strategy is a terrific answer to the question of how to build student motivation. This strategy does tend to overwhelm students with the sheer magnitude of the number and type of jobs that are disappearing. But that’s a good thing. It means you’re getting the job done. Whether you use this strategy as a student worksheet, as a poster, or project the image on your screen, you will find that it is an effective motivator.

This item is our Poster #445. To view the item in more detail, click the preceding link to enlarge. The poster lists jobs that are no more, along with jobs that are “going, going, gone.”

There are so many ways to use this item in your classroom or office. My favorite way is to go through the list with students and then ask them to add to it. Write their answers on the board and continue to accept answers until the board runs out of space. You can let them suggest only current endangered jobs like cashier and waiter. Alternatively, you can also allow students to include jobs that have already largely disappeared into the past like outhouse builder and typewriter manufacturer.

Be careful about saying too much and undoing what you’re accomplishing. It’s generally better to let the sheer volume and breadth of disappearing jobs speak for you.


Bring the Far Future Far Closer

Includes Free Download

motivational school posterI know what you’re thinking. Yeah, well, my students figure the future is a billion years away and they won’t care. You may be right. That’s why we have a strategy for that too, along with another free download from our Free Worksheets for Teachers page. This strategy was created to address that very real concern.

The download item says “The future is closer than it appears. Will you be ready?” To better view this item, click to enlarge.

For this strategy, you can certainly use the download as a poster or worksheet, or you can project it onto a screen. However, I actually prefer that you stop by the local thrift store or auto junk yard and pick up one or more automobile rear view mirrors. I think it’s a lot more powerful to actually use a prop than to rely on a flat image. Using an actual mirror is a good, perhaps necessary distraction for many students. While they are preoccupied playing with it, your message may be more likely to seep in. When students are distracted in this way, sometimes it’s harder for them to keep their defenses up.

Whether you rely on paper, a projector screen or the real thing to implement this strategy, you now have a method to tackle the problem that so many children and teens believe that the future is so far off that it will never come so they don’t need to worry about it now.  Once you’ve started a discussion on this topic, ask your students to talk about how fickle time is. To do that, have them focus on the wait for their birthday or a holiday like Christmas. They will talk a lot about how slow time can move while they wait for that special day. Follow up by talking about how a class or school day can seem to take forever too. Emphasize that time can seem to move very slowly or not at all.

Next, ask the students to talk about the speed of time when it’s a weekend or perhaps Christmas or summer vacation, how quickly time can speed forward. Assist the class to see that time is illusory, that it can look one way or the other depending on context. For example, a building is pretty static. It stays mostly the same no matter what, but time is more like river or lake that can rise and fall depending on circumstances. You could even use props to better convey that concept.

Your goal is to convince students that they really don’t have a way to assess how fast or slow time moves. Solicit stories about how time has moved incredibly fast or incredibly slow to further hammer home the point. For example, how slowly the ride to the amusement park or beach can seem to pass, but the ride to get your flu shot or to get your braces tightened at the orthodontist’s office pass way too fast.

Finally, relate the discussion back to the mirror, and have students consider and discuss that “like cars on the freeway, the future is closer than you think. Will you be ready?”


Article Continues Below



classroom management workshops

Your On-Site
Inservice Workshop Now

It’s More Affordable Than You Think

Learn 100s of Strategies for Work Refusers, Violent,
Uncontrollable, Unmotivated and Withdrawn Students

1.800.545.5736 or Email

One Click Can Solve It All



Article Continues Here


Meet the Competition

Includes Free Download


Motivational classroom poster for schoolsPictured at left is Poster #149. You can download this item for use as a poster, worksheet or as projection to a screen.

This strategy to build motivation uses students’ natural competitiveness and resistance to help them better understand that the threat of automation taking away their future jobs is real.

This poster introduces students to just one of their competitors. Ask the students to name other competitors such as computers, artificial intelligence (AI), robots and similar. List their responses in a column on a board or projector. Next, create a second column and ask students to list the likely advantages that these competitors have over human employees. Be sure to elicit answers like laptops never go to the bathroom, a computer never misses the bus, and a robot never oversleeps. Your goal is to make the list overwhelming and convincing, and given the rapidly accelerating pace of automation, that should not be a very difficult task to accomplish. If the answers are silly or funny, that’s perfect. Students will absorb more of your motivational message when grinning or laughing.

For a follow-up activity, divide your group in half. Have each group of students list all the jobs they might one day want to do. Limit them to 5 or 10 minutes to make their lists, then ask the groups to exchange lists. Each group should determine if any of the jobs on the new list could one day be automated. So, if the list includes long haul truck driver, a popular job for many students, for example, that job could end for humans if someone perfects computer driven vehicles. Your goal is to help students see that automation is a very real concern that is quickly approaching so they may want to work in school to be ready for it. And that is how you build student motivation.


Article Permalink


    Reprint or Repost This Article

    Bring the Breakthrough Strategies Workshop to Your Site

    Help Unmotivated, Failing, Troubled and Unmanageable Students

    teachermissYou have students who struggle. We have solutions for students who struggle…so your job doesn’t have to be so difficult. We have cutting-edge strategies to manage group and classroom management problems like behavior disorders, trauma, disrespect, bullying, emotional issues, withdrawal, substance abuse, tardiness, cyberbullying, delinquency, work refusal, defiance, depression, Asperger’s, ADHD and more.


    Schedule the Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Workshop to come to your site. This is the one professional development inservice that produces results, results, results. Call 1.800.545.5736 now. This surprisingly affordable inservice also makes a terrific fund raiser. College credit and 10 professional development clock hours are available. Your staff will finally have the more effective, real-world tools they need to work with today’s challenging, difficult youth.


    Contact us now, and begin solving your worst “kid problems” today. Call 1.800.545.5736, or email.


    Working with Troubled Students Doesn’t Have to be So Difficult

    Behavior & Classroom Management Problem-Solver Blog Articles

    Subscribe Unsubscribe/Change Subscription
    Contact Us*  *Not for Unsubscribing

    Library of Congress ISSN: 1526-9981 | Youth Change, Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver | 1.503.982.4220 | 275 N. 3rd St; Woodburn, OR 97071
    © Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved | Permission granted to forward magazine to others.

About Ruth Herman Wells

Author/Trainer Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. is the director of Youth Change Professional Development Workshops. In 2011, Ruth was rated as a Top 10 U.S. K-12 educational and motivational speaker by Speakerwiki and Speakermix. She is the author of several book series, a columnist, adjunct professor for two universities, and a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Ruth's dozens of books includes Temper and Tantrum Tamers and Turn On the Turned-Off Student.